New Moon Tribute to ‘Alien Comic’ Tom Murrin

Tom Murrin Blue Glitter Dress. Photo: Jim Moore
Tom Murrin Blue Glitter Dress. Photo: Jim Moore
Tom Murrin Blue Glitter Dress. Photo: Jim Moore

If you recall, I wrote about the untimely passing of Tom Murrin, aka the Alien Comic, here on The Lo-down last March. Thankfully, his spirit lives on (not that it’s been forgotten) in PS 122’s Avant-Garde-Arama: New Moon tribute at Abrons Arts Center this weekend.

Tom was ‘avant-garde’ way before PS 122 popularized the phrase in its long running variety show.  He was a first generation La MaMa playwright in the ’60s, penning plays with titles like “Cockstrong” and “Butt Crack Bingo.”  In the ’70s and early ’80s he performed as “Tom ‘Trash’ Murrin” (often on the street for unsuspecting passers-by). Props were his thing—Tom could animate any object — hence the “trash” moniker. From this, the Alien Comic was born and soon Tom was performing his hilarious antics around town, including at many long lost East Village rock clubs and venues such as CBGBs, Max’s Kansas City, 8BC, and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. Ah, the good old days when a night out meant more than just a fancy meal and specialty cocktail.

When PS 122 sprouted up 30 years ago in the former public school on 9th street and First Avenue, Tom was right there in the front row. For twenty-seven years he anchored Avant-Garde Arama, PS 122’s longest running series. If you haven’t been to one, get ready for a wild ride through the maniacal Avant-Garde-Arama world of burlesque, magic, dance, music, theatre, performance art, video/film, and more—presented in eight minutes or less.  Yes, each performer has only eight minutes to ply their trade.  Tom was a genius at this, utilizing his many hand-made and found props and costumes with performance art precision. Other performers who’ve appeared in AGA over the years include Blue Man Group (way before Vegas), Spalding Gray, Justin Vivian Bond, Karen Finley, and Taylor Mac. I recall a young David Sedaris reading from his first book at an early AGA.

Avant-Garde-Arama: New Moon is the first AGA show since Tom’s death, and in keeping with the AGA tradition, each night will feature a different all-star lineup of performers and videos, Performers include Julie Atlas Muz, Elevator Repair Service, Dynasty Handbag, The Factress and Unitard.

Downtown denison Lori E. Seid’s Virtual Lesbian Love Lounge will run throughout.  In addition, there will be a film tribute to Tom by Larry Fessenden.

PS 122’s Avant-Garde-Arama: New Moon // Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street // April 12 + 13, 8pm // $15.